Dancing with the Stars: stage is new, but the band and Brooke Burke are still awful

Dancing with the Stars returned last night with a massive new three-story set–with more staircases and no dangling Christmas lights!–and an impressive new cast who went through the first-episode motions well. Sadly, the ABC series also retained its worst elements.

The first is its absolutely horrific music; I’m now thinking it must just be a joke, because it’s so out of tune and painful to listen to. Last night, the band and its singers mangled Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” in an almost indescribable way during The Hills star Kristin Cavalleri’s performance. Listen and judge for yourself, but you might want to get something to mop up the ear blood first.

Co-host Brooke Burke is also still awful. Samantha Harris provided a lot of entertainment, mangling words and doing things such as holding the mic up to Marlee Matlin’s mouth as she signed. Brooke is mostly just bland and awkward. Last night, she asked severely burned Iraq war veteran J.R. Martinez if he could have ever have imagined himself dancing in front of a national audience, which is sort of asking him if he ever predicted he’d be injured in combat and then rise to fame after becoming a motivational speaker and occasional actor.

Meanwhile, Brooke, who is now going by Brooke Charvet, is involved in a lawsuit that is a lot more interesting than any question she’s ever asked the contestants. According to The Smoking Gun, Brooke “entered into endorsement and commercial contracts worth nearly $600,000 with Better Health Beverage, producer of underWAY. But after banking $312,500, Burke alleges in a federal lawsuit that Better Health recently defaulted on payments due to her.”

An excerpt of that lawsuit shows that Brooke’s contract required her to deliver “a minimum of six (6) mentions or public consumption shots of the Products through tweeting, blogging, on-air mentions, press or video interviews, or being photographed by paparazzi holding Products in public places.” So, she was being paid to shill underWAY, which describes itself as the first true appetite suppressant supplement drink. If only she’d do that instead of asking questions.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.